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Rumley: An open letter to high school students 2.0

Judd Rumley
Valley Voices

On Jan. 4, 2020, I wrote to high school students. In that open letter, I told them (and all of us) two things: life is not perfect, and they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

You may disagree with the second statement, but I bet you a dollar, you believe the first. Little did I know this year would be full of pandemics, social upheaval, neighboring wildfires, and lots of other imperfections. Insert your favorite, “If 2020 were a meme” here.

Maybe I have some street cred now? How do we live in an imperfect world knowing we are fearfully and wonderfully made? Let me give you two things to consider.

First, seek the truth to live.That is, seek the truth and then live by it. You may be asking, does truth exist? What is truth? How can I know it?

Truth exists and you can know it.It’s not your truth or my truth, it is the truth. Truth is that which is in accordance with fact or reality.

Many people today get truths mixed up with tastes.Tastes are subjective and deal with personal preferences. Soccer is the greatest sport ever. I think so. Tastes depend on the subject and can change over time.

Truth is objective and outside of you.Truth deals with things that are true for the thing itself. Penicillin is an antibiotic developed from bacteria that helps with various infections. That is true whether I believe it or not. Truths depend on the object that is being spoken of and cannot change.

There are four main categories of objective truth that most people agree on. It is what we are taught in school. There is logic (If P then Q, P therefore Q). There is mathematics (2+2 = 4). There is science (water is two parts hydrogen plus one-part oxygen). And there is history (George Washington was the first president of the United States).

These are universal, historical, and antithetical. And yet some still think all truth is relative. They say truth is relative; there are no absolutes. I say for these two statements to be true, they must be absolute. They say you shouldn’t tell people they are wrong. I say for this statement to be true, the speaker just broke their own rule. You get the point.

And believing something does not make it true. The Denver Broncos won on Sunday. You may sincerely believe this, but you would be sincerely wrong.

What do we look to help us determine that which is true? We look at the Correspondence Theory of Truth. This view promotes the idea that truth is in correspondence to, or with, a fact. Reality is where we live.

I am 47 years old and much slower than when I was in high school. So seek the truth. And live by what you know to be true. A friend of mine has said, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Find out what he meant by that.

Second, speak the truth in love. How do you do this? We begin by listening.

Steven Covey said this is a highly effective habit. Seek first to understand then be understood. It means we listen to others. This means we listen so well we can repeat back to them what they are saying to their satisfaction.

True listening is loving. Unfortunately, we live in a society where we constantly talk past each other because we really believe we have it all figured out. And after you listen, speak with kindness. It’s not only what you say; it’s how you say (or text or post it). Don’t be mean. Meghan Trainor said your momma raised you better than that.

And if you come to disagreements, be tolerant of each other. True tolerance. I won’t go into detail here as I have written about that subject. We can make the world better. We truly can. But we must become experts in the basics.

Young folk and all y’all, do these two things — seek the truth to live and speak the truth in love — and this imperfect world we live in will be better than it is now.

Judd Rumley is the lead pastor of Redeemer Eagle Valley. He is married to Ashlea, and they are blessed with three children. Email him at judd@redeemer.family.


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